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February 18, 1994 - Image 40

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-02-18

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

LA'ASOT — TO DO

SPEAK OUT, ACT!

While publishing an advertisement on "Schindler's
List," the movie which has numbed Jewish and non-Jewish
audiences, a student newspaper at Brandeis University, a
Jewish institution and one of the most prestigious in
the country, runs another ad — right next to the one on
the movie — denying the Holocaust. Mindboggling? Yes,
but true
Brandeis' The Justice is the latest of a growing
number of student newspapers (the University of Michigan
and Michigan State University student newspaper are
among the group) to publish this morally obscene adver-
tisement and we are asking you to join us in condemning
the trend.
Our organization is launching a campaign to have
advertisers boycott papers which publish these vulgari-
ties and if you have some time to assist us, please
call. Also, if you feel like we do, please write to one
or all of these universities to express your condemna-
tion and we'd be pleased to help you with the letter of
protest.
This is not a freedom of the press or censorship
issue. Media outlets routinely reject ads as well as ed-
itorial submissions. This is a matter of editorial
judgement and we have no obligation to help finance such
reprehensible editorial decisions.
We should not financially support such newspapers
which desecrate those who died and suffered in that Hell
and which publish ads that are an insult to the Jewish
people.
Please join us in taking a stand. All of us have
an obligation to do so. If we don't stand up for our-
selves, no one else will. Again, please call us if you
want to help — in any way.
Sincerely,

President
Berl Falbaum

Vice President
Asher Tilchin

Secretary
Geraldine Schwartz

Treasurer
Harold Grodman

Board Members
Pnina Basse
Jobe Falbaum
Dr. Jerome Kaufman
Larry Rockind
Alvin Sallen
Sheldon Sonkin
Alicia Tisdale

Clear Thoughts, Words
Help Us Survive

RABBI NOAH M. GAMZE SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS

I

Berl Falbaum
President

Asher Tilchin
Vice President

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n this portion, which deals
with the regalia worn by the
Cohanim (priests), we find
mentioned the hoshen mish-
pat, the breastplate of judg-
ment. Rashi's commentary sug-
gests several possible meanings.
The first possible meaning
was that it was called this be-
cause it atones for faulty judg-
ment. The second, interpreta-
tion, which seems preferable, is
that it was called mishpat (judg-
ment) because it clarified his
word and statement truthfully.
Rashi states that this clarifica-
tion is called discernment in Old
French. Rashi uses the term
Laaz when utilizing Old French
words to explain a point. The
word Laaz is an acronym for the
words Lashon Am Zaar, the
language of a strange people.
In this commentary we are
further told that the term judg-
ment is used in three senses.
They are the claims of the liti-
gants, the sentence of the court
(actually the verdict), and the
punishment ordered by the
court. In this portion of the
Torah, the word Mishpat is
used to denote a clarification of
words, since it explains and
clarifies his words.
From these few words of
Scripture we can see that our
respect for the use of reason and
for clarity of thought go back to
the very beginnings of our his-
tory. Thus, it is no wonder that
many of our people start their
study of the Talmud with cer-
tain chapters which emphasize
logical thinking and analysis of
basic concepts.
To be immersed in the tal-
mudic tractates Baba Kamma
and Baba Metziah is an exer-
cise in using one's ability to
think.
While this is true of all Tal-
mudic study, many persons find
that the two tractates men-
tioned are a good place to start.
The statement in the Ethics of
the Fathers that an ignorant
person cannot be truly pious is
another example of our respect
for the use of one's mental fac-
ulties. Nor is respect for clear
thinking limited to the sacred
sphere. Our sages, in many cas-
es, showed great respect for the
sciences, especially medicine
and astronomy.
In later times, this tradition
of respect for clear thinking and
for the life of the mind resulted
in the development of a great

Noah Gamze is rabbi of the
Downtown Synagogue.

tradition of Jewish philoso-
phy.This philosophy was most-
ly Aristotelian although there
were some Jewish neo-Platon-
ists. Throughout the centuries,
any scholar who wanted to be
taken seriously had to be able
to explain his ideas very clear-
ly. This was true whether he
was writing on philosophic top-
ics, discussing a talmudic prob-
lem or deciding a question of re-

Shabbat Zachor:
Exodus 27:20-30:10
Deuteronomy
25:17-19
I Samuel 15:2-34.

ligious law (writing a Tshuvah).
The ability to think clearly and
express oneself with clarity
helped us to survive for cen-
turies under the most adverse
conditions.
When the French Revolution
and the Napoleonic Wars began
the process of liberating the Eu-
ropean Jews from the ghetto,
these habits of mind stood us in
good stead. Within a relative-
ly short time, our people began
to play an important role in the
economic and cultural life of
Central and Western Europe.
Even those of our brethren who
drifted away from our faith re-
tained the habits of clear think-
ing and the use of reason. One
need only consider the influence
which the works of such men as
Sigmund Freud and Albert Ein-
stein have had upon the world.
To return to the original pur-
pose of the hoshen mishpat
which was to clarify Aaron's
thoughts and words, we may
well consider the influence
which our brethren have had
upon legal thinking. It took the
work of a Judge Louis D. Bran-
deis and others to develop in-
terpretations of the Constitu-
tion which were in touch with
modern reality. He started as a
dissenter, but in time his opin-
ions became mainstream.
The ability to ask questions
and to think clearly is also help-
ful to our survival as a people.
What we need to have is the
confidence that our faith can
stand up to the most rigorous
questioning.We should under-
stand that our Torah can sur-
vive in-depth analysis. Let us
not be afraid of the wisdom of

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